A busy weekend of outreaches including another special outreach, this time to Christmas in the Park on Saturday evening.
But first, in the morning, a team of two headed to Cashel Mall. There were many Christmas shoppers out and about. My beautiful wife, Ruth, was the other member of the team - and it’s so encouraging having her join me more often! She was handing out tracts while I would field the conversations. Afterward we talked about how we can be so fearful of just handing out tracts. Ruth reflected back to when she joined the Sparks in the Park outreach at the beginning of the year and how she was too scared then to hand out a tract. But now having become more familiar with community outreach like this, she now finds it a lot easier. The key seems to be: just keep coming out and getting a feel for it till you get comfortable enough to take the next step. So be encouraged, if you are one of those who find outreach terrifying, to simply come and observe to start with. God is with us!
There were thousands of people at Christmas in the Park. And only a team of four to reach this mighty harvest field. We paired up and focused on “walk up” on the outskirts of the event for a couple of hours. We were in pretty much constant conversations with small groups of people - as seen by the pictures. It was nice to hear some Christmas carols being sung in the background, and even the name of Jesus coming from the speakers - if only the gospel could be fully proclaimed!
Checking questions played a vital role in at least one of those conversations. Two guys with a Christian background but, amazingly, hadn’t heard the gospel, and were relying on their good works to get them to heaven. After hearing the precious gospel message, the checking question revealed they hadn’t really understood, as they still thought good works were the way - it’s so ingrained! After labouring with them, they eventually seemed to show understanding.
In another conversation with a group of three guys, one of the guys started dominating the conversation and constantly pulling the conversation down rabbit trails. We used a tactic where we split the conversation in two. I talked to the dominating guy, while Andy stayed with the other two. The technique worked! And the gospel message was delivered to both groups.
Sunday was warm and overcast. It was nice weather to share the gospel in. A team of five were in Cashel Mall: My wife, children and I! :) It’s so encouraging having them join me so often now. Long may it continue.
The girls focused on politely handing out tracts, while I had some wonderful conversations with people.
My first was a walk up with a man from Scotland. He was slow to warm up to the conversation, but was very engaged by the end of it. There was a lot of apologetics and I had to listen a lot as he processed the arguments he was hearing. Opportunities to share the law and the gospel came along very naturally. It was a very enjoyable conversation and we parted ways with a multiple handshakes.
Many people said “No” to my attempts to ask them a question. But there were those that did stop - including a young couple, that believed in heaven and hell and thought they were good enough to go to heaven. They heard the bad news, and then understood the good news - a checking question confirming they understood - first time. It turns out the guy was Catholic, so I took the time to emphasize that we are saved: by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus alone. They both took follow up tracts.
There were many other conversations in the two hours - a fruitful time of ministry. But this log entry is now too long.
Looking forward to a rest tomorrow - still recovering from a very busy November of gospel ministry. Praise God for rest. All glory to him for any fruit from the labour.
Thursday was hot! Friday was cold. And there was much outreach on both days. Thursday saw an extended outreach at the Eastgate bus stops as well as the outreach at the Northlands bus stops. Friday we had the Gospel + Abortion outreach in the morning, then open air preaching in Cathedral Square at lunch time, before moving to Cashel Mall in the afternoon, and then an evening outreach in the city.
There were many gospel conversations at the bus stops. Some highlights:
I approached a lady in a wheelchair and asked her what she thought would happen after life. She responded saying she was a Muslim. I warm conversation started. And, sadly, it turns out that her husband had been shot three times in recent mosque shootings. He survived. I was able to express my sympathy and concern, but her bus arrived before I had any opportunity to discuss the gospel. But she took a silent missionary as she went!
I had an interesting conversation with a young couple. They seemed to think it was weird that I would want to talk to them. They asked if I was in a gang. I said yes: my local church - it’s a great gang to be a part of. I then asked them if they were in a gang. The conversation proceeded in a unique way - but I was still able to work thought explaining the gospel until their bus came. He accepted a silent missionary as well.
The final highlight was a conversation with a young man who had literally finished probation that day. So the courtroom analogies I was using was hitting home. He was very engaged. I’m convinced that he understood the gospel, but he was certainly weighing the cost! I was encouraged.
I also had an opportunity to follow up with the taxi driver I mentioned a few weeks ago. He said that you can’t change your religion overnight… so he has not trusted in Christ so far. I will keep praying for him.
On Friday, the gospel + abortion outreach, outside the hospital, ran as expected. There were opportunities to share the gospel (although briefly), there was some support, but much opposition. One lady in particular was murdering me with her eyes. She didn’t look happy at all! But at least she has life - unlike the many preborn people who are murdered day after day in our nation. It is a privilege to shine the light of the gospel into this situation.
I also had an opportunity to follow up (again) with the guy who works in IT in the hospital (I think I mentioned him a few weeks ago). He was going into the hospital - but not for work! He had been in a motorcycle accident. I asked him if his life flashed before his eyes - he said that the car flashed before his eyes! I’m glad he is still alive and has an opportunity to trust in Christ. He had to go, but he has my contact details and I told him I’d be available to talk any time.
In Cathedral Square, Marty (OAC) and Andy preached when there was a lull in the other noises in the area. One young school boy took interest in Marty’s preaching, and so when he left, I caught up with him to ask what he thought. This turned into a very long conversation: well over one hour, if not two. He had many very genuine and deep questions about life and Christianity. I did my best to answer his questions, and had multiple opportunities to work though and explain the gospel. It was a very rewarding, but tiring conversation. I’ll be praying for this young man.
It was wonderful to be able to have my wife, Ruth, join me for the evening outreach. Our children were staying with a cousin. We spent the time walking the streets and approaching people to share the gospel. At the end of the evening we were reflecting and decided to do a count of all the people we interacted with. To my surprise it was well over 20! Not all of those interactions involved complete gospel conversations - but there were many. It’s amazing how many people just two people can reach in two hours. Follow up tracts were distributed and, as always, we leave the results in the hands of God.
Thank you for your continued prayers and support of the Christchurch (NZ) team.
Monday was a day of rest for me. I slept for a good amount of the day as I recovered from three busy weeks that included: the Tell Me Conference, the Canterbury A&P Show, and Schoolies on the Gold Coast.
But it was back to work on Tuesday. Roger and I were in Riccarton in the afternoon. And on Wednesday I was in the city on a warm but windy day.
In Riccarton, I had four sets of conversations, and passed out many tracts. Roger seemed busy on the other side of Rotherham Street.
The highlights included a conversation with a young man who was very keen to engage with the question: What do you think happens after life? I had to be very patient in this conversation, as he was very quick to pick up what I was saying and would start responding before I could finish and then reel out his thoughts on the matter. He was resistant to being able to know anything for sure - esp. God. But eventually conceded that there had to be a universe maker. But he didn’t like this idea at all and made a beeline for why God commanded some people to be put to death in the Bible. Again as I tried to respond, he cut me off not allowing me to explain, and then his anger came raging to the surface - although he contained it quickly. But he made some pretty nasty comments - which I chose not to respond to, since he wasn’t looking for answers anyway. I simply offered him my hand and wished him a good day. To his credit, he shook my hand. I also offered him a tract, and a way to get in touch if he wanted to talk further - I wasn’t surprised when he refused.
I also had a fascinating conversation with a man from Brazil. He thought about the after life a lot and was keen to chat and hear about the hope of eternal life found in Jesus. In this conversation, checking questions came to the rescue. After hearing the gospel, I immediately asked him what the way to heaven was. And his response was good deeds! It took some labouring, but an understanding of the free gift of salvation started to permeate into his mind. It was encouraged.
Wednesday was a busy day of outreach. With the high winds, I didn’t bother with my flip chart.
My first conversation was with an Indian construction worker. He considered himself very good, having never lied, or stolen… but he did finally admit to being angry! It turns out this guy was going to a local church, but it was so ingrained in him that good deeds were required to go to heaven - he had gone into denial. I patiently laboured with this guy, using checking questions many times, and I could see that he was finally comprehending that salvation was a gift by faith in Jesus’ sacrifice for sin. He had to go to a meeting, but I’m glad he gave me the time to explain.
I then decided to head towards Ara, and on the way, I approached two guys on a break from work. One wasn’t keen to talk at all, but the other was - and he knew his Bible well! But he was evasive on a clear answer on what we have to do to go to heaven. So the conversation focused on faith and works and what was required for salvation. It turns out this guy is seventh day adventist, and I’m fairly confident he considered works to be required in some way, where the Bible clearly teaches we are saved by faith alone. I hope he was challenged by the conversation - he took a tract.
Down at Ara I had a number of good conversations with groups of people before heading back to Cathedral Square.
After a late lunch I decided to open air preach, as there were quite a few people hanging around. It was great to have two hecklers right from the get go - they were very challenging - in a good way! I kept losing my track as I was thinking about what they were saying and how to respond. One of the things they didn’t like was my use of the word “we” when I said “we all know that God exists”. They insisted that “I” knew, but they didn’t know. I didn’t back down on this point. At one point, I highlighted the broken Cathedral in front of us and explained that “we” all know that it had a builder - the heckler agreed, and I rested my case. We will have no excuse on judgement day, because “we” all know God exists, and “we” know we fail to keep His standards by our conscience… but there is good news found only in the sacrifice of Christ Jesus - all glory to Him. :)
PS I nearly forgot, I approached three young men after I had preached to talk to them, and offer them tracts - it turns out they are Christian's from Brisbane and knew all about Operation 513. One of them knows team members from Brisbane. They were encouraged to get involved!
I flew home from the Schoolies outreach on the Gold Coast on Saturday and was able to enjoy being with my local church family for gathering on Sunday morning. It was extra special as three people were baptised afterwards in the early afternoon. Praise God for that.
So Sunday afternoon’s outreach in Cashel Mall was delayed, but still went ahead - with six people getting involved.
We split into pairs. One pair did walk up around Oxford Terrace and the Bridge of Remembrance. Another pair handed out tracts down by Colombo Street. And the other pair ran a flip chart in between.
I was on the flip chart, but I set it up back a little and intended to use the same technique that had proved so successful while at Schoolies, namely: “May I ask you a question, it’s a deep question - what do you think happens after life?”. To my initial shock, it went down like a lead weight more often than not. Most people, as soon as I had said: “May I ask you a question” just gave an instant and flat: “No”! A stark contrast to Schoolies, where most people were keen to chat!
But I wasn’t to be deterred, and managed to have many good conversations anyway.
Two sets of Christians stopped and were encouraged by what we were doing. One even came back with a gift of some nice looking sausage rolls for the team to eat - much appreciated.
I was able to have three full gospel conversations during the outreach.
The first was with two teens one of whom was a Christian with a decent grasp of the gospel. But her friend wasn’t a Christian and so heard the gospel today. Afterwards, the Christian had a question about homosexuality which we were able to discuss.
The second was also with two teens. This time, I let the newbie who was with me share the law - you did a great job! :)
The last conversation was with a group of three tourists, and I think this was the one time that “May I ask you a question, it’s a deep question” worked! :)
The team enjoyed a hot chocolate / iced coffee afterwards to enjoy some fellowship. All glory to God.
Praise the Lord for an encouraging time of outreach last Saturday. As our team of six met at the Bongaree Jetty, we were thankful to see the number of people gathered to enjoy the good weather. We were able to distribute hundreds of Gospel tracts, as well as have several meaningful conversations.
One family approached the flipchart, a woman with two teenage sons. The younger son was particularly honest about himself, and they all seemed interested and engaged. One of the boys was obviously struggling with deep questions, so we gave him one of John Blanchard’s helpful books. When they came over to our literature table, they each took several booklets, and two of them asked for full Bibles. Just before they left, the mother said, “There must be a reason for our meeting today. We were just eating our ice creams, and we weren’t expecting to talk to someone like you. There must be a reason for this.” This was a very positive response to the sharing of the Gospel, so we ask you to pray for God to do a work in each of their lives.
A group of around six 14-year-old girls also did the good person test and heard the Gospel. Some of them laughed about what they heard, but several of them seemed to understand, at least in part, the seriousness of their position before God. They realized that they were on their way to hell, and they didn’t want to go there. They heard the good news, that God made a way for us to escape hell. They also came over to the literature table and took some booklets and Gospels of John. When another team member asked them how they could be saved, their reply was to “re…uhhh…re…pent—do a u-turn—and trust that Jesus died for our sins.” It was encouraging to hear that they had understood the message of the Gospel. May the truth of the Gospel triumph in their lives.
Please be in prayer for these people we have spoken to, in particular Ray and Zoro, who are more open to listening each month that we meet them. Pray for the right words to reach these men. Pray for those who received the Gospel in the form of tracts. Pray for many conversions, and that God would continue to bless the work here at Bribie Island.
God has continued to be generous to us in the outreach to Hobart. Over the last couple of weeks there have been some fantastic conversations and the response to the preaching has been encouraging.
In the preaching there is always people who take exception to the word of God been preached, but praise God there are also people who love to hear. There have been people trying to stop the preaching with threats and complaints. Some of these are old hecklers (Mr S.) and there are some new ones too. God is generous to us though, there has been protection around the team and I and the preaching continues.
I wont dwell on the difficulties though, there have been numerous people coming to engage with the team. A selection of them:
Mr O. – A high school student here in Hobart who regularly comes with friendly questions or rebuttals to my preaching. It has been a real refreshment to have him coming over the last year. He is willing to listen and will clearly and logically lay out his perspective and listen to my responses thoughtfully. He is a spiritual guy with an interest in Quakerism. He spoke to me about what he described as “a real presence” when he was at his final grade assembly recently. As we talked about this and other spiritual matters it occurred to me that God is moving in this young man’s life. So, as he was leaving I recommended he consider the poem “The Hound of Heaven” by Francis Thomson.
Mr O. – A high school student from a local catholic school who has been coming for some time to listen to the preaching and conversations. His first question to me was “Can Roman Catholics be saved?”. I responded that yes, they can if they are trusting in Christ for salvation and not the Roman church. We then went on to talk about the eternal fate of unbelieving friends and people from other religions. He wanted to know if they would be saved? Scripture says that no they cannot unless they repent of unbelief or belief in other gods and put their trust in Jesus. Under all this was a deeper question about Mr O.’s grandfather who had recently passed away. Keiron spoke with him at length about this and prayed with him.
Mr B. – Has been coming for some time now on and off. He has previously varied in his view of the witnessing in the mall. He began to be more open to Christian things since investigating Gnosticism, God moves in mysterious ways. We now have a lot of agreement between us regarding what is preached and spoken about in the mall. Mr B says he is aghast at the state of society, particularly the porn epidemic, abortion, and effeminacy in men. Several of his friends have also come to visit and have stayed listening to some of the preaching. Mr B. has also had long discussions with Mr S. my old heckler and looked at the video’s Mr S. posted online. He noted to me the anger, inconsistency and distortions present in many of those videos. Encouragingly Mr B. is keen to continue coming to listen to the preaching and wants to visit Cornerstone Church.
Two catholic guys – After I finished preaching one day two guys came up and wanted to encourage me to continue preaching. They also said they have seen the team in town for some time now and that they liked what we say as a team and that the work of the team is courageous. A couple of times since then they have given me the thumbs up as I have been preaching.
Praise God for encouragements and opportunities!
Battle Log for Toowong Village on Nov 26th, 2019 from 1330 to 1500
Great to have Kiateck rejoining us after he finished his heavy Church ministerial projects as well as his own assignment for Theological postgraduate Study. In the mean time, we received apology from Col for illness sake and from Winnie for family engagement. So we ended up serving today with a team of three, i.e. leader Johnny Hsieh, Kiateck Tan and Hung.
The afternoon started with seemingly very slack opportunities close to zero. But in no time, all three of us got as many divine appointments as we use to have at this spot of harvest field every Tuesday. Despite the UQ Academic Semester was over, both Johnny and Kiateck might have around 6 to 8 conversations while I got 10 divine appointments as recap below: -
1) Collin an elderly Christian who have 120 % assurance of salvation faith. But he has not been attending any church for a long long time because of bad church administrative experience. He is a building inspector and he anyway has never stopped sharing the gospel in his trade to bring clients to Christ and making disciple of all nations. I anyway still appealed to him never stop meeting for sake of continuous growth in grace and knowledge in Christ.
2) An English couples took the tracts and was found OK on the two questions though their complete understanding may still subject to deep scrutiny.
3) Blair an Aussie young lady claimed also to be a Christian who originally said she had 100% assurance of salvation but later changed to 80% after being challenged. So I managed to give her the needed clarification to get her back to have 100% assurance.
4) Francisco a Columbia Catholic who has no assurance of salvation that supposedly need my clarification which however was cut short by the arrival of the bus.
5) Jenny an Aussie elderly lady seemed to know all about Christianity but actually not. I anyway chose to walk her to the Toowong Village and did my best to feed her with the right concept of redemptive faith.
6) Karen a catholic background old lady with her niece stopped to chat with me. I soon found out that she has given up her Christian faith because of bad witnesses by other Christians. She rather believes in conducting her life as a good person and to respect others to make their own choice. Therefore, she is also a pro choice people. Despite of such great differences she still was polite enough to chat with me. Just pray for God regenerating work on her.
7) Joe the atheist I met last week greeted me again at the bike station while getting his bike to leave. I was given a second chance to witness with him how I became a Christian after wasting half of my life to believe in good work. He was surprised to learn that I received Christ at Manchester UK in 1990 and had visited his home city of Leicester. Pray that I can have many more chances to testify my journey of faith.
8) A woman with Tattoo took only the anti absorption tract despite I gave her also the Good Person tract. God must have a purpose in it.
9) Emma an UQ student from China was with a group of four of friends. Some of them took my tract, but only Anna was willing to let me walk with her back to home while listening to my sharing of the Gospel. She appeared receptive and promised to ponder on the truth of the gospel in the tract.
10) Sonia an office lady from Serbia. She listened up while I walked her back to office and she appeared very receptive to the gospel.
Schoolies 2019 Week 1
My last log entry covered the last two days of the Canterbury A&P Show, in Christchurch, NZ. I then had the privilege of flying to the Gold Coast to be involved with the first week of the Schoolies outreach. This log entry will detail my experience of the week.
The first thing I want to talk about is the slogan for Schoolies: Best Week of Your Life. That is wrong on so many levels. When I would ask some of these kids three things Schoolies was known for, I would get pretty much the same answer: drink, drugs, and sex. We know that those three things do not equate to the best week of your life. In fact, it’s leading to devastated lives. And if that was the best week of your life, what does that say about the rest of life? How depressing! Oh, how desperately is the hope of the gospel needed in this environment. And so, our team, ranging from about 8 to 12 Christians (depending on the day) would head out for two outreaches: afternoon and evening to share just that.
Oh, and these kids want to talk. It’s pretty much a constant stream of conversations for the whole team. Some are open, some resistant, some mock, some seem deeply impacted by the gospel. Ultimately the results are in God’s hands. But God is glorified in our obedience to bring the gospel to hundreds of these kids. It is the power of God to salvation for all who believe.
And because we were out there in the afternoon and evening for the whole week, there were many opportunities to have follow up conversations.
I remember talking to one young man in the evening, and then seeing him again during the next afternoon’s outreach. He remembered me, but not much of the content of the conversation we had. So he was given the opportunity of hearing the gospel a second time. I’m confident he understood the gospel - checking questions confirming - but, for now, he is resistant, with “meditation” being his excuse.
Another long follow up conversation with a young man revealed how he was struggling with suicide. Through a clear explanation of the gospel, and testimony of how God saw me through my own struggle with the black dog - I could see genuine hope sparking in his eyes. This young man actually hugged me. I hope he counts the cost and accepts the gift of eternal life through faith in Jesus’ payment for sin.
Something that really encouraged me was the openness to logic and reason. I would often start conversations with the building / builder, universe / universe maker analogy and get responses like: “you’ve blown my mind - that makes so much sense”. This would set up a conversation so I could explain how we know right from wrong, the problem of sin, the good news of the gospel, and the cost of accepting the gift. And that cost was often too great: some would suggest that that would accept the gift after schoolies - which just shows that their heart hasn’t been regenerated. But from time to time, people would understand and even say that they would have to leave Schoolies as a result of accepting the gift of Jesus.
The week of outreach was tiring - but oh so worth it. So grieving to see these kids in such a state, night after night. But such an open harvest field! Oh to see some come to know saving faith in Christ to the glory of God alone.
I’m now back in NZ, but the team are still on the Gold Coast for Schoolies week two. Please keep them in prayer!
Schoolies Outreach Week 1
Hundreds of young people have been personally witnessed to this last week at Schoolies Outreach at the Gold Coast.
Be encouraged with these videos from each of the days:
Our very first evangelism outreach at a show 🙃 Waimate A&P show. We started the day with just one little camping table & a handful of literature. Still a great deal to learn & improve on e.g Operation 513 Timaru signs, display boards etc, but at least we were there! 😁We had a really good conversation with a guy who admitted he made up hi no s own belief system and had a real problem with God of the Bible allowing suffering of various kinds. He was very polite; frustrating in the sense that he "agreed" with almost everything we said, saying he also believed in "God", even though it was clear that we did not mean the same "God", as we argued from the Bible.
The last interaction at the Waimate A&P show was unfortunately with a group of hostile & mocking teenagers who made a big show of ripping up a Gospel tract :( The weather was drizzling rain from start to finish. Overall it was a good outing & God willing aim to be back next year! 😀